The people have spoken, and this is what they have to say: the following 17 companies are the best of the best in the Chicago real estate industry.
Chicago Agent’s second annual Agents’ Choice Awards survey winners were selected by our readers, who voted through an online poll.
The online survey featured categories ranging from “Favorite Web Site” to “Favorite Place to Live” and “Favorite Architect.” Inside the following pages, you will find the companies and places that our Realtor readers voted their favorites in Chicago, from downtown to Oswego, and everything in between. You will see photos of these award-winning projects and hear straight from the winners what makes these companies, buildings and communities the most beloved around.
These are your favorites, Chicago, so take a look at the companies and projects that the industry is raving about.
Lucien Lagrange Architects
Lucien Lagrange knows what high-end residential buyers want most: the comforts of home. Based on this deep understanding of the luxury lifestyle, Lucien Lagrange Architects creates gracious residences with a graceful flow of space. The commitment to comfort in daily living is what sets these residences apart, from the kitchenette in the master suite for that first cup of coffee to the oversize microwave for family pizza night.
Designs by Lucien Lagrange Architects include Park Tower, 840 Lake Shore Drive and 65 East Goethe.
Sensitive to the streetscape as well as residents, this design portfolio demonstrates an unrivaled capacity to unite form, function and setting in structures that succeed equally in both the aesthetic and public realms.
With Ten East Delaware, 2520 N. Lakeview and Elysian Hotel and Private Residences now in development, Lucien Lagrange Architects continues redefining the city skyline and the luxury lifestyle.
FAVORITE ECO-FRIENDLY COMMUNITY – CITY
When developing Emerald, Senco Properties, Harlem Irving Companies and New Frontiers Companies partnered to create a quality dwelling that encourages an eco-sensitive lifestyle in a hip, urban neighborhood.
A totally “green” 8,000-square-foot lobby links Emerald’s twin 12-story towers, distinguishing the 212-home development and establishing glamorous additional living space for its residents with a stylish great room and electronically-equipped conference and home-office center.
Emerald also boasts a chic, trendy bar that rivals any in Chicago’s club scene. The space showcases fashionable, sustainable products and furnishings with a spectacular futuristic lighting system using energy-efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that operate at an estimated 3 percent of the cost of conventional lighting while creating stunning abstract art.
John Robert Wiltgen, a member of the International Interior Design Association, designed the lobby, while Pappageorge Haymes, Ltd. of Chicago served as architect.
FAVORITE ECO-FRIENDLY COMMUNITY- SUBURB
With construction underway at Winthrop Club, Winthrop Properties is one step closer to Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for the new 15-story high-rise in downtown Evanston. When completed, Winthrop Club will be the first residential building in the area to receive the Silver LEED designation from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Elements contributing to Winthrop Club’s LEED certification include the use of recycled materials, native landscaping on the roof and terraces and a location within walking distance of public transportation. Additionally, sustainable design and construction maximize energy efficiency in the building and create cleaner, healthier interior spaces.
Homes include high-end interior finishes, 9- to 10-foot ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, crown molding and bamboo flooring.
Winthrop Club will offer 99 condominiums with one to three bedrooms and one to three and one-half bathrooms, plus balconies or oversized terraces.
FAVORITE LUXURY REAL ESTATE SERVICE – CITY
Coldwell Banker Gold Coast Office
Perched high above Chicago on the 20th floor of the John Hancock Center, the Gold Coast office of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage provides outstanding service to buyers, sellers and developers of exclusive luxury residences, and other fine properties, in a discerning boutique environment.
Coldwell Banker’s Gold Coast office is filled with some of the most sought after brokers in the real estate world. With each agent averaging more than $10 million in sales, many are simply known by their first names like celebrities and political figures.
Backed by the resources of one of the largest residential real estate companies, the Gold Coast office offers the personalization of an intimate office with national and specialized marketing capabilities. The office’s highly trained in-house graphic artist produces the signature color brochures, invitations, postcards and e-campaigns to represent Chicago’s finest properties.
FAVORITE LUXURY REAL ESTATE SERVICE – SUBURB
What sets RE/MAX Naperville apart in the luxury segment is the company’s ability to make the process of buying or selling a luxury home as easy as possible for the client, while also acting as an outstanding business partner for any cooperating agent. Those who seek, or are selling, luxury homes understand the sale/purchase process well, but are also busy people who expect excellent comprehensive service. Therefore, RE/MAX Naperville encourages agents to obtain the Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist designation, and also ensure a thorough follow through in luxury transactions.
The company also recognizes the importance of widely exposing luxury properties in an appropriate manner to the full range of qualified buyers. The properties are marketed in more than 60 countries worldwide through the RE/MAX network, the Internet and a number of major publications, all of which help attract transferees, investors and corporate buyers. Whether representing the buyer or seller, RE/MAX is committed to delivering client satisfaction.
FAVORITE MORTGAGE COMPANY
National City Mortgage
National City Mortgage, a division of National City Bank, is part of National City Corporation, one of the nation’s largest financial holding companies. Recently, National City finalized the purchase of Chicago-based MAF Bancorp (MidAmerica Bank), positioning National City as the fourth largest bank in Chicagoland, with 123 branch locations in Chicago and Milwaukee.
National City notes three reasons why it is different from any other in the mortgage field. First of all, the company is dedicated to National City’s corporate vision, “to be the best mortgage company, period.”
Secondly, National City employees work hard to continually practice core values every day. These core values are: maintaining a competitive spirit, accountability, teamwork, integrity and innovation.
Lastly, National City ensures its employees are truly the best in the industry in terms of professionalism, customer service and knowledge.
FAVORITE SALES AND MARKETING COMPANY
Mike Golden and Thad Wong co-founded @properties on the belief that the success of each individual agent “trickles up” to benefit the overall @properties brand. Thus, they provide their agents with industry leading marketing, training and support.
The company employs two full-time performance coaches who meet with agents one-on-one to help them hone their sales skills and marketing techniques. Team building activities range from improvisational workshops at The Second City to a company softball tournament at Wrigley Field.
The company also provides its agents with Web-based client management systems, an agent-branded e-mail newsletter and an agent-branded client appreciation program. @properties also offers agents access to in-house IT and graphic design departments with full print and Web capabilities. The result is a work environment that is professional, supportive and fun, for new agents and top-producing veterans alike.
FAVORITE OVERALL AMENITIES – CITY
Bold in both design and function, Aqua, designed by Jeanne Gang of Studio/Gang architects and developed by Magellan Development Group LLC, is the first high-rise in Chicago specifically designed to feature condominiums, rental, hotel and retail spaces in a single structure.
Its dramatic design is produced by outdoor balconies and terraces that form unique, undulating contours of different sizes and shapes that change gradually from the lower to the higher part of the building.
Destined to be Chicago’s next architectural landmark, equally imposing is an amenities package that includes a distinctive 80,000-square-foot deck with luxury gardens, gazebos, pools, cabañas, hot tubs, running track, fire pit and grills.
Indoors, a 35,000-square-foot amenity floor will provide fitness facilities, an indoor lap pool, a spa featuring hot tubs, sauna, steam and massage room, private party suites with catering kitchens, coffee bar and lounge, media room, billiards and game area, business center, Internet café, library and a skygarden.
FAVORITE OVERALL AMENITIES – SUBURB
Ryland Homes created Talamore, an 806-acre master-planned community in suburban Huntley, for families seeking a maintenance-free lifestyle rich with amenities.
In addition to the more than 2,000 homes planned, Talamore has 170 acres of open space, including an 8,000-square-foot clubhouse with party room, concession area, tot-lot and outdoor pool. Over 4.5 miles of walking trails meander through Talamore, and a 37-acre sports core will offer soccer and baseball fields, as well as basketball courts.
Huntley offers a variety of services and amenities that make life enjoyable. Talamore children will attend top-ranked District #158 schools and the Huntley Park District offers a water park, community center and classes and programs for children of all ages. Shopping along Rte. 47 and Algonquin Rd. is abundant, and commuter access to I-90 via Rte. 47 is a breeze. O’Hare International Airport is 30 minutes from Talamore via I-90, and Metra trains are available in Crystal Lake and at the Big Timber Station in Elgin.
FAVORITE PLACE TO LIVE – SUBURB
The Willow Lake development in Lake Forest, from Centrum Properties, consists of 52 villas and is situated on two lakes just off Rte. 60. The homes, designed by Darcy Bonner and Associates, are traditional and impeccably detailed.
The homes at Willow Lake are unique because they are suitable for growing families and empty nesters alike. With elevators or master bedrooms on the ground level, these homes provide adequate space to entertain and have the family and grandchildren come to visit.
The rooms in each home are spacious and beautifully detailed with over 3,885 square feet of living space. These homes provide more than enough room for your best pieces of furniture, dining room set and living room layout.
With the master bedroom downstairs, you can close off the upstairs and save it for family visits. The full, finished basements also include a bathroom. Options for the lower level include a bedroom, wine cellar and media room, and the grounds are maintenance free.
FAVORITE PLACE TO LIVE – CITY
Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago
At 92 stories and 1,392 feet tall, Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago is literally and figuratively rising above other iconic Chicago buildings to take its place as the city’s premier luxury high-rise.
Reflecting the cachet of the Trump brand inside and out, the building sits on a prime location along the Chicago River, providing unobstructed views of the river, Lake Michigan and neighboring architectural landmarks.
Inside, the building offers an exceptional experience. Residential and hotel condominiums include gourmet kitchens with top-of-the-line appliances and cabinetry, luxury limestone-clad master bathrooms, 10-foot ceilings and expanses of floor-to-ceiling windows. The building also offers a variety of amenities and services.
With access to the world-class Spa at Trump; a signature restaurant, Sixteen, and lounge, rebar; exclusive shopping at the Riverwalk Shops at Trump International; and five-star hotel services, the building’s residents will experience a new level of luxury living in Chicago.
FAVORITE VALUE – SUBURB
Churchill Club in Oswego is a signature, master-planned Town & Country Homes community that offers something for everyone. This development has a combination of amenities and a selection of homes that makes it one of the most desirable new home communities in the southwest suburbs.
Churchill Club features a large community clubhouse with a junior-sized Olympic swimming pool, workout room, activity room with kitchen, park district property with sports courts, a walking path that winds throughout the community, two on-site schools and a mix of plans from maintenance-free townhomes to single-family homes, along with an active adult section within the community. This design allows for convenient, multi-generational living and helps to foster a sense of community and togetherness.
Churchill Club also gives residents easy access to major roadways, great shopping and dining, plus proximity to historic downtown Oswego.
FAVORITE VALUE – CITY
1720 S. Michigan
CMK Companies strive to create compelling residential communities that offer buyers exceptional value propositions in Chicago’s most desirable neighborhoods.
As with all of the companies’ residential developments, 1720 S. Michigan incorporates a modern architectural style that sets it apart.
Award-winning architecture combined with premium interior finishes and well-designed floor plans have drawn favorable appeal from a broad base of buyers. Interior features such as stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, hardwood floors and limestone bathrooms are standard, while 10-foot ceilings with floor-to-ceiling windows offer panoramic views of the downtown skyline and lakefront.
These attributes combined with the best price points in the South Loop have made 1720 S. Michigan a fast-selling city project. Several furnished models are available for viewing seven days a week at 1720 S. Michigan. Current pricing starts at $193,900.
FAVORITE WEB SITE- CITY
New West Realty – newwestrealty.com
Since 1990, New West Realty has pushed the boundaries of new development west and south of the city center, triggering the transformation of older neighborhoods into vibrant hubs of residential and commercial growth. New West has developed and marketed nearly 3,000 homes from the South Loop and lakefront, to the city’s western border and beyond.
In order to make its Web site user-friendly for both agents and consumers, New West Realty offers a variety of search options. Users can search listings based on neighborhood, housing type and price. They can also navigate from the home page to the Web page of each New West Realty community. The site also includes information for finding an apartment and property management tips.
New West prides itself on providing quality construction, innovative design and a strong commitment to enhancing the lives of its customers and the future of every neighborhood it serves.
FAVORITE WEB SITE -SUBURB
RE/MAX Northern Illinois – illinoisproperty.com
The Internet has quickly become one of the most important resources in the home buying process. Studies show that the Internet has not replaced the knowledge and experience of real estate professionals; instead, it has created an effective, new way for agents to market to consumers.
RE/MAX Northern Illinois’ goal in creating illinoisproperty.com was to provide all listing data to consumers by building one of the first RE/MAX regional IDX/VOW Web site solutions. This enabled consumers to search for properties in their neighborhood, across the country or anywhere in the world.
What makes the illinoisproperty.com Web system unique is that it is not just a Web site, but a turnkey personal marketing tool for each real estate professional that consists of a VOW Web site and a whole suite of integrated tools that helps the RE/MAX real estate professional market and conduct an online business.
Illinoisproperty.com has been so successful at generating leads to its agents that it has been used as the model for the national Web site initiative by RE/MAX International.
FAVORITE OVERALL NEW DEVELOPMENT – SUBURB
When Residential Homes of America (RHA) set out to acquire the historic Blithefield Estate in Lake Forest, the company had a vision to transform part of this land into a beautiful maintenance-free neighborhood. RHA is realizing this vision now, with a design that preserves the wooded surroundings with stunning condominiums that are architecturally pleasing, incredibly well appointed and that represent an almost unheard of value for new construction in this area.
Construction on the Amberley Woods Condominiums is moving along on schedule, with the first deliveries slated for spring of next year.
The winding streets surrounded by rich natural beauty where deer are known to frolic gives this community a special feeling. What sets these condominiums apart is that they provide the ability to purchase new, maintenance-free condominiums in amazing surroundings.
FAVORITE OVERALL NEW DEVELOPMENT – CITY
Lincoln Park 2520
One of the most desired neighborhoods in Chicago is Lincoln Park, and Lincoln Park 2520, the neighborhood’s first luxury building in decades, is a beautiful new addition to all that makes the area so desirable.
Located adjacent to the park for which it is named, Lincoln Park 2520 will feature 286 ultra-luxury condominium homes and 12 single-family homes with unobstructed views of Lincoln Park, Lake Michigan and Chicago’s skyline.
Designed by Lucien Lagrange, Lincoln Park 2520 will create the illusion of three separate towers. Homes will consist of one-bedroom, two-bedroo and three-bedroom units. Sizes range from 900 to as much as 9,000 square feet — the size of an entire floor in the building.
Chicago-based developers Peter E. Ricker and John T. Murphy of Ricker-Murphy Development, in partnership with the General Electric Pension Trust, advised by GE Asset Management, have already commissioned the site’s demolition. First move-ins are scheduled for early spring of 2010.